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We're always interested in recipes that come bearing a certain assumed geographical expertise. Cheesecake from New York City. Cuban bread from Miami. Stuff like that. As biscuits are definitely a Southern specialty, our interest was piqued by this recipe from Cathy Case Emerson of Charleston, South Carolina, who wrote as follows:
"Dear P.J. The reason I'm writing is to send you a recipe for Angel Biscuits, sometimes called Bride's Biscuits. Unlike most biscuits and quick breads, they have yeast in addition to the baking powder. I haven't seen a recipe for a biscuit similar to this in 'The Baking Sheet,' to date, and I thought you might enjoy it.
"I usually serve these with ham tucked inside. Often, for brunch, I'll make them smaller than 2 inches, using a champagne flute to cut out the biscuits. You can make them the night before, and store them till morning. These are really good for wedding or baby showers and tailgating, too."
These high-rising biscuits are crunchy on the outside, but tender and moist within. As Cathy suggests, they're delightful split crosswise and filled with a bite of ham or sausage.
As for the nameAngel Biscuits is obvious, as the extra leavening in these gives them extra "pop" in the oven, and they become "ethereally" lightlike an angel. But Bride's Biscuitsthis is only conjecture, but could it be that the two types of leavening also helped ensure success for the beginning (bride) baker...?
1/2 cup (4 ounces) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup (1 5/8 ounces) vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk or buttermilk
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast and 1/4 cup of the flour. Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, the sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut in the shortening and the butter, mixing until everything's rough and crumbly. Add the milk to the yeast mixture, and pour this all at once into the dry ingredients. Fold together gently until the mixture leaves the sides of the bowl and becomes cohesive. Sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of water only if necessary to make the dough hold together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat it gently into an 8 x 10-inch rectangle; it'll be about 3/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into fifteen 2-inch round biscuits. Gather, re-roll and cut the scraps, if desired; the resulting biscuits will probably be a bit tougher. Place the biscuits on an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover them lightly, and allow them to rise for 1 hour, or until they've increased in size by about a third. (The biscuits may be refrigerated for several hours or overnight at this point, or frozen for later use.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Uncover the biscuits, and place the pan in the top third of the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The biscuits are done when golden brown on the top and bottom. Remove the biscuits from the oven and serve them hot, with butter and jam or ham and eggs. Yield: about fifteen 2-inch biscuits.
Nutrition information per serving (1 biscuit, 42g): 139 cal, 7g fat, 3g protein, 15g complex carbohydrates, 2g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 9mg cholesterol, 237mg sodium, 53mg potassium, 31RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 61mg calcium, 96mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 4, Spring 2000 issue.